January 21, 2012

25 Things to Do in Limerick - Numbers 6 and 10

At orientation, they gave us a map of the city with a list on the back: 25 fun things to do in Limerick. This week I've done two of them: A open-top bus tour of the city, and a day at the Milk Market.

The bus tour was on Thursday evening, and was great fun. It was a bit wet (it's never not a bit wet, as far as I can tell) and quite cold (also pretty much always the case), so I was hesitant to sit up outside on the second level when I could stay huddled in the warm lower level, but I was talked into a seat out in the open up top, and I'm glad I did. The view was fantastic - it was fun being taller than everything else, seeing over all the other cars to the beautiful old buildings. The guide threw an amazing amount of history and trivia about what street was named for whom in which rebellion, and I wish I remembered it all, but the short version would be that in Limerick some things are named for reformers and most everything else is named for someone who rebelled against the British. Lots of the statues we passed show people holding guns or swords as if they were about to charge, and many of those were killed for their trouble. (There's also a statue of Richard Harris as King Arthur, which I aspire to find.)

The bridges over the Shannon are particularly beautiful - there's not as much shopping and fewer historical buildings, but it makes up for it in just the lights and flags hanging over the old stone bridges and amazing river itself. It's far enough away from the city centre that it's probably not the best place to visit at night, but I would love to sometime go walking around there at sunset.

Then today, we went to the Milk Market. I'm not quite sure I understand the history, but here's my best guess - Limerick City used to have lots of markets. A Hay Market, a Pig Market, a Potato Market (we passed that one on our way into the city today.) They all became irrelevant as the economy changed and grocery stores opened and things like that, except for the Milk Market, which no longer sells milk and is instead a very popular weekend-long farmer's and crafts market.

That table full of tarts is one of the first things we saw when we got inside, and we couldn't resist - after grabbing some vegetables for dinner Monday night and stopping by a few stalls just to browse, we had to go back and grab a fruit tart, which was possibly one of the best ideas I've ever had. Next time I really want to try one of the cheese tarts, or maybe even a meat pie. After we'd seen every stall we sat down at a little coffee shop where the owner knew a lot of the customers by name and had some tea, then went exploring around the town. Highlights included a tent full of used books for sale at one euro each, and an Irish Handcrafts shop, where a smooth-talking salesman told us great stories about the meanings behind Aran sweaters and convinced both of us there that really we need the $200 dollar hand-made ones to bring home. They're so beautiful and comfortable!

So that checks two items off of our "25 Fun Things To Do in Limerick" list. I'll keep you posted as I do them!

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